Lane Electric Members Elect Two New Board Members


With this vote, Lane Electric is almost entirely led by women

Eugene, Ore. – Following elections to fill two open positions on the board of directors, Lane Electric Cooperative, a non-profit electric utility serving rural communities of Lane County Oregon, became one of the few cooperatives in the country to be nearly entirely led by women. Lane Electric members voted in directors, Joy Olgyay to represent the Central District and Krissi M. Martes to represent the Row River District. They join the seven-person board, of which six directors are female, to serve Lane Electric’s more than 10,000 members.

In a male-dominated industry, Lane Electric is unique. In addition to the board, the cooperative has been led by Debi Wilson since 2019.  Debi became the first woman general manager in the cooperative’s 83-year history. Across the energy industry, just 3.6% of CEOs are female.

“Thank you to our membership for participating in this year’s board of director elections,” said Debi Wilson, General Manager of Lane Electric Cooperative. “Our members selected strong female leaders to represent them, which says a lot about our tight knit community. We’re excited to have Joy Olgyay and Krissi Martes on the board. We also thank Hugh Buermann and Jack Billings for their impeccable service and wish them the best in retirement.”

As a cooperative, Lane Electric is owned by its members who exercise their control by electing a total of seven board members by residential district. The board of directors determine the strategic plans, the general operating policies, the electric rates, and the annual operating budget for the cooperative. The seven board members are elected from four board districts to serve a three-year term. The four board member districts are the Central District, the McKenzie District, the Row River District, and the Oakridge District.

“Not only is Lane Electric an exemplary cooperative utility, it’s also a trailblazer in our industry,” said Ted Case, Executive Director of Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “It’s a changing industry and Lane Electric not only reflects that change, it is making history.”

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association – the trade association for America’s 900 electric co-ops – believes Lane Electric may be among the first in electric co-ops to have this percentage of female leaders.

Established in 1937 through the Electric Cooperative Corporation Act, America’s rural electric cooperatives were founded on the principle of democratic member control. Cooperatives are member owned, and therefore, the leadership of each is governed by the community. Today’s rural electric cooperatives serve 42 million people around the country.

Lane Electric’s board of directors are:

  • Susan Knudsen Obermeyer, Board President – Oakridge District
  • Kathy Keable, Vice President – McKenzie District
  • Chris Seubert, Secretary/Treasurer – Central District
  • Joy Olgyay, Director – Central District
  • Ingrid Kessler, Director – Central District
  • Krissi M. Martes, Director – Row River District
  • Paula J. Brown, Director – Oakridge District

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About Lane Electric Cooperative

Based in Eugene, Oregon, Lane Electric Cooperative is a member-owned rural electric distribution cooperative. It serves more than 10,000 members over 2,600 square miles of Lane County. Founded in 1939, Lane Electric is a member of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) which has approximately 850 cooperative members serving 36 million people in 47 states.